The Arabic alphabet is a script used as the basis for the writing systems of many languages, including Arabic, Persian, and, up until the 1920s, Turkish. Given that peoples speaking these languages have conquered various parts of Georgia many times, it’s somewhat surprising that the Arabic alphabet has never been used systematically to write the Georgian language. I would have thought that at least the Muslim Adjarans would have written Georgian in Arabic letters, but as far as I can tell, this has never been widely done.
So I considered this problem: how would I write Georgian using the Arabic alphabet? Here’s what I came up with:
Notre Dame de Lourdes (known in Turkish as the Bomonti Gürcü Katolik Kilisesi) is a Georgian Catholic church in the Feriköyneighborhood of Istanbul. Most Georgians being Orthodox Christians, there are not many Georgian Catholic churches in the world. Further, there were never many Georgians in Istanbul, and there are very few today. Thus the very existence of this church is twice surprising. Its continued use is also surprising. Most sources report that the congregation today is largely made up of Turks, though when I went to see the church I found an amicable group of Georgians inside.
The church was built in 1861 and extensively renovated in 1901. For further details on the church, as well as its place within the history of Georgian Catholicism, see this recent paper by Natia Natsvlishvili. It’s a very nice essay, and I don’t have much to add to it, so this post will contain mostly pictures of the church along with some comments.
The Laz (Laz: lazepe, Georgian: lazebi or ch’anebi, Turkish: lazlar) are a Kartvelian people who live in Turkey. They used to live in western Georgia (first called Colchis and later Lazica), but beginning about 1,000 years ago were driven south. Today they inhabit what is sometimes called Lazistan (Laz: lazona, Georgian: lazeti or ch’aneti), a littoral strip of Turkey stretching from about Artvin in the east to Trabzon in the west.
I added the arrow because some readers were too lazy to find Lazistan. Get it?
The Northwest Caucasian language family is a family of languages that originated in the northwest part of the Caucasus. It consists of Abkhaz (with its numerous dialects, including Abaza) and Circassian (the two chief dialects of which are Kabardian (East Circassian) and Adyghe (West Circassian)). It used to include Ubykh, but that language’s last speaker died in 1992.